The net neutrality
debate campaigns are going into the second round:
- Pro net neutrality: Save the Internet, a wide alliance of open-source, academic, activist, blogger and open knowledge people around Lawrence Lessig. (Watch their video.)
- Contra net neutrality: The telkos. (Watch their flash animation.)
The basic principle of net neutrality is simple. Internet-Guru David Weinberger (Author of the Cluetrain Manifesto among others) describes it as follows:
Net neutrality … means that the people who provide connections to the Internet don’t get to favor some bits over others. This principle is not only under attack, it’s about to be regulated out of existence.
If AT&T and the other telcos who are lobbying Washington get their way, net neutrality is no longer given: They get to decide who can access which websites, based on some yet-to-be-defined business model.
I can’t pretend to be
neutral unbiased there. If the big telecom companies really get a say in which websites and which contents you are allowed to access, it’s bad. That simple. Really, really bad. Bad for innovation, bad for creativity, and most of all bad for free speech.
What’s more, whatever happens to the internet in the U.S. happens in other countries a little later, too. Germany is mostly only a small step behind the U.S. when it comes to screwing up internet-related regulation and laws, both in terms of timing and degree.
While I’m not a big fan of the format the Save The Internet campaign uses (too propaganda-ish in my opinion), they are the good guys here and are fighting for the absolute right things. To keep access to the net as neutral – read: open – as possible is top priority.
I think you’re confused about the Internet. It most certainly does favor some bits over others, and always has; if it didn’t it wouldn’t work at all as some bits tell it how to operate and others don’t.
It’s always been legal for ISPs to “favor” some web sites over others, and for some web sites to offer faster links than others. ISPs don’t tend to do that for business reasons, but it’s perfectly legal for them to do so, and always has been.
Google has a private network that’s totally unregulated, and it allows them to download videos faster than most everybody else. Should that be illegal?
Well, maybe so: Maybe I don’t get all the details right here. But. (If I just wouldn’t dislike the idea of being a troll on my own weblog so much! Alas, I do. Anyway.) Where core competencies are lacking on my part – I’m clearly not an expert on U.S. internet-related laws – I tend to believe people I regard as the most competent ones. Like, just to pick an example, Tim Berners-Lee, who you just described as “either an idiot or a fraud”. I just can’t help the feeling that we won’t come to a consensus about this issue.